Detroit Casino Workers Walk Out on Strike, Casinos Report Loss in Revenue
Photo Credit: Detroit Casino Council
Thousands of Detroit union casino workers walked off the job on strike October 17, saying the three big casinos there--MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown--were unable to reach a fair deal with the union.
The walkout represents the first casino strike in Detroit history, with 3,700 casino workers walking off the job. The workers are represented by the Detroit Casino Council (DCC), which includes the five unions that comprise the striking casino workers: UNITE HERE Local 24, United Auto Workers Local 7777, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.
The strike comes in the wake of other hospitality labor actions in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where Vegas hospitality workers resolved their battle with strip resorts over many of the same issues facing Detroit casino workers. The DCC has five core concerns they say must be addressed by the casino companies for a deal to move forward. These include:
- Protecting casino worker’s healthcare.
- Providing more job security and language that protects workers from technology that already exists in other casino markets.
- Improving the value of retirement, including remedying the fact that there has been no increase in these benefits in the past eight years.
- Reducing the higher workloads that have resulted from the 1,500 casino jobs that have been cut since the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Securing significant wage increases to help remedy the wage increases workers did not ask for during the economic turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The company is offering us nickels and dimes, and they want us to pay more for healthcare,” said Terri Sykes, a dealer at MotorCity Casino and president of UAW Local 7777, in a press release. “As a two-time breast cancer survivor, I’m fighting to protect our health care. These companies are making more than ever, and it’s time they respect us for all the sacrifices we made to keep the doors open during the pandemic.”
The striking workers have asked the public to not cross the picket lines and patronize the three struck casino properties in Detroit. The union has even gone as far as to boycott online betting platforms such as FanDuel, ESPN BET, Hollywood iCasino and BetMGM. The DCC also launched a digital ad campaign to target users of the apps, arguing that the apps should be utilized due to their association with struck properties.
Casinos Feeling the Heat
Now nearly one month after the strike began, Detroit's three entertainment centers remain open for business but have reported revenue losses and several temporary closures of many casino amenities traditionally done by the striking workers. The Michigan Gaming Control Board, which oversees all casino and gambling operations in Michigan, revealed revenue information for all three of the struck Detroit casinos in October, with all three major casinos showing a drop in revenue during the month the strikes began.
The three Detroit casinos reported $82.8 million in aggregate monthly revenue for the month of October, compared to nearly $100 million in revenue for each of the months of September, August and July. Each of the resorts is also showing a significant decrease in revenue compared to October 2022, where MGM’s revenue is down by 19.6%, MotorCity’s is down by 22.8% and Hollywood Casino’s is down by 11.7%.
Many services are also currently unavailable at many Detroit casinos due to the strike. Valet parking services are currently unavailable at the three Detroit casinos and self-parking garages are currently the only way that guests can enter the casinos. In addition to valets, MotorCity was also forced to close high-limit table games, first-floor slots, poker rooms, the D.TOUR Spa, Lacquer Gift Shop and its radio bar.
Hollywood Casino at Greektown has also had to reduce its restaurant hours, which used to be available 24/7, along with its beverage services.